Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pakistan plan in quiet Cannock

KARACHI: Time away from the hustle bustle of London has proven beneficial for Pakistan hockey team’s prospects at the Olympics, coach Khawaja Junaid has claimed.
    Pakistan are currently based in Cannock, a little-known town in the West Midlands region of England, and Junaid believes its relative isolation from activity surrounding the London Games has given his players a chance to focus on their game.
    “We couldn’t have asked for a better venue for our final pre-Olympic camp,” Junaid, told The News from Cannock.
    “It’s a small town with great training and playing facilities and the boys are working really, really hard away from the hustle and bustle of city life,” added Junaid, a former Olympian.
    While most participating nations headed directly to the Olympic Village after arriving in London, Pakistan headed straight for Cannock, opting to train and play several warm-up games over there.
    “We are having two training sessions daily,” said Junaid.
    “Our primary focus is on hockey tactics and physical fitness and I must say that everything is going perfectly smoothly as the boys get ready for London 2012.”
    Captained by ace drag-flicker Sohail Abbas, Pakistan will begin the Games largely as underdogs much behind fellow Pool A contestants Australia, Great Britain and Spain.
     But according to their coach, Abbas’ men have a single-minded focus on their biggest challenge this year.
    “The good thing is that the team’s morale is high and the boys are training confidently for the Olympics,” he said.
    “They are doing extensive training aimed at enhancing speed, strength and endurance. All of them are itching to take the field in London and are ready to give their best in the Olympics. I’m sure they’ll give a forceful show there.”
    Pakistan arrive in London on July 22 and will subsequently play a couple of warm-up matches.
    They will take on Spain on July 30 on the newly-laid pitch at the Riverbank Arena at the Olympic Park.